SIT-REP: Holiday Hell 2000 -The Car Wreck Journals
If you're just joining us, the following SitRep journal entries and letters to my loved ones come from this car crash. If you prefer this stuff in a tidy list of symptoms, maladies, causes and effects, the short version is here. The longer version of how those symptoms impact my life is here.
If, however, lists overwhelm you (and those lists are overwhelming), and you prefer to learn what it was like in story format, real time, along with all the other things that were going on besides injury recovery, that's what we're diving into here.
If you're one of the many people who have rolled your eyes because I didn't have any broken bones or eviscerated guts and so-n-so's injuries (or your own) were soooooo much worse and they/you're "just fine now", it may behoove you to learn:
People with broken bones are entitled to having those bones put back into place. They're entitled to casts and crutches and other people holding doors open for them. The medical world and anyone in general society who possesses a shred of compassion agrees on this. They also tend to agree that people whose organs are lacerated need just a little medical care and time to heal from such catastrophic wounds.
These things are societally recognized as legit injuries deserving compassion. Same with surgeries, spouse/parent/child death, loss of a limb, major scarring, blindness or deafness.
Now granted, society in general doesn't really know how to deal with malfunctioning humans, and those who have disabilities you can SEE have their own uphill battles with stigma and avoidance. You'll have to find other blogs for tackling all that bullshittery. And let me assure you--they're out there. Just google it.
Mine is about a different and highly overlooked issue.
People whose injuries, illnesses and conditions are invisible go through a secondary wounding by the very people who are supposed to care for them, and by society as a whole. Our conditions are often ignored or maybe receive a little lip service before, "Get back into your cog-slot in the Matrix and perform, you weakling wastrel!"
If we're not labeled "lazy" then it's usually "crazy." This means we have to go on in untreated pain, injured for longer than was ever necessary. Then we get to live with these wounds and their trickle-down compensation injuries for the rest of our lives because we weren't deemed worthy of receiving the proper care we would have gotten with a friggin', clear-cut broken bone.
Oh. And we often have to do this on our own dimes, even WITH insurance.
A few days ago, I covered how having this incident occur right before the holidays booted an already traumatic experience down the cliff into Hell.
Now let's dive into why I needed all that help that was so difficult to find amidst the Hap-Hap-Happiest Season of All.
December 21, 2000, 8:31 a.m.
28 years old
Since I stretched out to snooze on the gurney---about 2:30 a.m.--my back has spazzumed 7 times. (Sidenote: it took me a long time to finally give up on remembering how to spell that and just sound it out - this from the former spelling bee champ.) Between the lowest lumbars. Feels like someone stuck a knife between the vertebrae with really, really nasty intentions. From the moment of the accident (I had not yet learned that DUI is no accident), it has been tight and sore. Now it is just a constant, uncomfortable ache. My right shoulder on up the neck to where it meets my skull started to get sore as I was laying in the hospital.
I told them that…but they didn’t really look at it. Still sore now. I was definitely looking at the right shoulder of the road when my head got snapped. That whole trap muscle feels stretched and not in a good way. My left wrist is still cracking when I move my hand around. There is a little abrasion on the outer forearm. Must have hit it. My left hip/thigh are still tender. Oooh, the right arm above the bicep and below the shoulder also tender. Hurts to move shoulder in circle.
The things that were supposed to be on the docket:
--Work. Was going to go in an hour early since I can’t stay late to make up for sick time hours. 9—3
--Lesson with William 4—6
--Dance @ the Fez
--Work from 9—5
--Dance @ the Fez again
--Dance @ the Fez also
--fly to MN for Christmas
My poor cats have no food—it’s in the back seat along with my Christmas presents. I wonder what my poor car looks like.
I’m so angry at her. I love my life. I need my body fully-functioning to eat and pay bills, much less for the simple joys of living and she threatened all of that like she held a gun to my head. Mine and everyone else’s she passed. I’m so livid!!!!!! And profoundly sad…
I never get up this early! But I have another chiropractor appointment. This whole thing SUCKS! After I called in to say I would be missing work, my boss's wife sent her sister to me to take a look--Carol is a chirpractor from AZ so she can't actually treat me. But she asked me detailed questions, then showed me how to do an ice massage. That sucked too. She hit the muscles between my shoulder blade & spine and I about came unglued! I mean, they have been tight before--I use them every day in ways most people never knew they could be used, but now, they are just a plague of pain and give “electric” shocks of spasm when touched. Real good for my neck…
So she got to the neck, pulled up my hair, and discovered the golf-ball of muscles on the right side. The corresponding vertabrae was not happy. (Sidenote: I suddenly had immense trouble with that word. It and "spazzuming" were my banes. I could remember "spasm" but not "spasming." I could remember "vertebrae" but not "vertebra". I dunno. Dain Bramage. It's inconsistent.) So she immediately put me in a make-shift neck brace of towel, jacket & scarf. My friends called their chiropractor for me. Carol was VERY concerned that I might have a fracture vertabrae. She still is--occult fracture, she called it.
BTW--writing this SUCKS! My neck, shoulder, & arm are complaining already. So we get meticulous x-rays taken--everyone is shocked & appalled that no one took x-rays of my neck at the hospital. Nope. Just from shoulder to lumbar. I remember the x-ray dude having problems getting my necklaces off, but then he dropped them and said, “You won’t need x-rays there anyway.” Even after I had said something about my neck & shoulder tightening earlier. Ugh.
So we went to the chiro office with the X-rays. I fill out the paperwork and they call my insurance company to make sure I won’t have to pay for it personally. Now, not only am I strung out from riding in a car--I’m jumping & flinching every time a car even moves in our general direction--screaming and crying like a lunatic at all those jerks who don’t stop at signs or lights until the last minute--that sucks too BTW! I didn’t need post traumatic syndrome!!!!!!!!!!!
And another thing! One of the few things I can actually do--sort of--is eat and I woke up with cancher sores (my 3rd spelling bane that I knew was wrong but couldn't figure out) on my mouth and tongue which makes eating a painful and horrendous task as well. Besides the fact that since my neck is immobilized, I’m dropping food all over myself and everywhere! I need a flipping bib and highchair! AAAAGH!
So. The insurance company totally sucked at explaining the confines of their policy to me and I end up fritzed out cuz I’m gonna have to pay for those x-rays since I couldn't wait to let them process their stupid paperwork and find me a doctor--which they couldn’t do until Tues. Not knowing if I had a neck fracture?! Yeah right!
I’m now starting to get irate. I ask her to fax me a list of doctors. She tells me--the person with a possible neck fracture, who can’t look down to see my feet--that she will read a few over the phone and I can write them down!!!!!!!!! (Sidenote: I was also concussed and didn't know it. It would take this incident with the phone and paperwork for someone to finally mention the word "concussion.")
I hand the phone to Jerry before I start saying things I will regret.
She speaks with him, they work it out, I grudgingly finish my paperwork. He takes me back and goes over in detail my x-rays. (Sidenote: as we can see, I was even putting written sentences in weird order. It was way worse while trying to speak.)
My neck is curved forward--opposite from the curve it should be. The vertebrae are twisted horzontally. My spine is doing an S all the way down my back, my lumbars are also twisted. Gee…no wonder I’m having spasms. No wonder there’s a golf-ball in my neck and a mountain ridge down the right side of my back. So he does a bunch of tests, puts me on electric current to relax the muscles--this is relaxed???? does more tests and fits me for a collar. He did a little pricky/proddy test on my arms--my right arm is slightly numb. Joy. Such a subtle symptom but now that I am aware of it in among the nasties, it is annoying. That is from the twisted vertebrae my neck cutting off the nerve holes, from what I understand.
I got to sit with ice packs on various parts of my back & neck on and off all evening, then to go sleep with my neck stretched. This morning, I feel like I got ran over by a truck. Sore, achy, headache from hell. My entire neck is throbbing right up into my skull. I fear my teeth will be worn down from all the clenching & grinding. My jaws hurt.
Not only did I have to miss work & get somebody to dance for me at the last minute, but now I definitely can’t dance tonight or tomorrow. Was wigged about that all day until Dakini & Cori said they’d cover for me. Also had to cancel poor William’s lesson--who had stayed overnight in a motel after the student show because he lives 45 minutes away!!!!! Not cool.
This weekend & Thurs were supposed to help cover my groceries and the trip to MN--but hey! I don’t think I’m even going to be able to do that now! And I can’t dance New Years either, which would have been about a good $500, so now I can’t even pay my rent & bills! I am not allowing myself to look at money numbers right now. Like I need the stress.
And another thing! Trying to put my hair in a ponytail and wash my face sucks too! Lifting my arms straight up or out hurts my neck & back & shoulders.
All right, let’s get on a postive mindset here: I am still alive!!!! I am not horribly maimed. I will dance again somday. I have all my limbs. I have the use of all my limbs. I did not roll the car. No one else hit my car when I went back across the lanes. Most of the medical & trauma & police staffs were nice to me. I have the most awesome friends & family in the world. I AM ALIVE!!!!
OK, I’m back to bitching. I HATE feeling stupid! I hate having to think long & hard just to find the word I’m looking for. It’s like trying to start a car with a dead battery! I love my friends for taking off work & rearranging their schedules to haul me around. I HATE feeling trapped because I have no mode of transportation.
But yet, I am terrified to drive again. I told myself after the accident that there would be no rational reason to fear driving. I’ve gone for over 10 years without a crash. But now…I am paranoid. I HATE living my life in fear!
And why am I going through all this suffering? Because some stupid *&^%$ decided that she needed to get plowed and instead of taking a cab, instead of calling someone, she gets behind the wheel and takes away my CHOSEN life, my liberty, my freedom of movement, and my pursuit of happiness.
Why?? Because of alcohol. Alcohol and a car.
Neglect, carelessness, recklessness, total ill regard for the welfare of herself and everyone around her. Well, at least my vocabulary is returning from the land of “Uh-huh. No. I’m hungry. Ouch.”
Wow…I just took my first shit since the accident! Tiny, rabbit pellet, putrid smelling craps that I had to force out. Thanks. I’m so bound up right now that it’s not even funny. I can feel the gas rumbling around in my guts. Yum. I’m so dehydrated that my lips are cracking, yet I’m drinking so much water that I’m in the bathroom every 15 mintutes! Which also sucks BTW! Pulling my pants down and up. Having to twist to wipe? This whole thing SUCKS!!!!
Go ahead. If you're inspired to laugh or wince, groan, smack your head, feel free. As I read these things, I do all of those simultaneously. Along with the crying. Or raging and having to tap out on this project for awhile.
Rinse-repeat-rinse-repeat. More of the same with the addition that I wasn't able to get to my car after all - because they'd closed early for the holidays.
Except for this excerpt from the letter I wrote to the man I was dating:
How your letters have brightened my day! Everyone has been so awesome to me. Bringing me things, carting me around, helping out, just generally being concerned and affectionate. Even the owners of the moroccan restaurant were sooooo concerned. I mean, I knew people cared for me...I guess I just hadn't realized how much. It is breathtaking, amazing, humbling, and so heart warming.
Not a good day. Woke up with a huge desire to break up with Galen cuz I’m scared to need someone. To want them to be there for me and hear the answer, “No.”
The rest is a repetitive log of all the things I was having uncontrollable fits of bawling about that we've already covered:
--seeing my car for the first time
--not being able to get ahold of anyone to help me during the holidays
I also was massively paranoid that the police didn't read the drunk her rights or that somehow I would be found to blame because I was also on the road that night. After all, she had lied to the police about me "suddenly swerving ahead of her and spontaneously crashing into the median" which was "the reason why she hit me."
Thankfully the chunk taken out of my bumper confirmed the truth of my statement.
Bawling and raging and bawling and raging, inability to communicate my thoughts correctly, and having zero idea why my head was such a mess.
The neck-wrenching incident with the honking asshole I wrote about the other day also happened on Christmas Eve.
The letter to my boyfriend ended with:
I am very tired today. Dakini and William just left. They are awesome. Everyone is awesome...*sigh* The people in my life kick ass. I think I'm gonna go snooze.
Well, yesterday was a very bad day. First, I couldn’t get ahold of my adjustors because everyone’s still at Pissmas. My PCP's office never got ahold of me either. Then I started my attorney calls…I am so ignorant of these matters that I don’t know what to do. I don’t like that the big fancy one was going to hit me with an expense retainer as well as 40%. How am I supposed to pay for expenses before I've gotten a settlement? I can't even pay for my living expenses! After talking with Dakini & William, I think I’m gonna go with Lawyer John Smith. (That's what we'll just call him from now on.)
I’m stressed cuz I don’t know where my bills will be paid out of. How will I get to work when I have no peripheral mobility in my neck? And driving with PTSD is not good. Still overly twitchy. Getting a little better but still paranoid. Need to take photos tomorrow.
Not being able to dance is kicking the crap out of my healing from this. Dancing is my salvation. It’s my life force. How will I be able to remotely feel worthy of going to Australia when I will have been out of several months? Can’t wait to get cleared for yoga, but how will I pay for it?
My neck is killing me today. I had a strange bulge and it was all pink on the left today when I took off the brace…weird. Also my whole back is bad today too. Especially the lower. I’m so tired. Need sleep. My pre-period cramps are nasty! Go figure. My sacrum and pelvis are twisted. Joy-joy…can’t frigging wait have my period. That ought to be fun…
USAA is already on my butt. Can’t wait to have a lawyer to sick on them. Calling me at my work…what is that? Also, Penrose gave my number out to the UCCS Psych Dept. Grrrr…
My mom is coming unglued and will not get a full night's sleep until she lays her eyes on me and can touch me and know that I'm OK, so they left at about 3 a.m. to drive out here. Trying to weed their way through the storms and make it here by Thurs.
I read that sig file from my email. That Hans Bos quote:
While I dance, I cannot hate, I cannot judge, I cannot separate myself from life.
I can only be joyful and whole.
That is why I dance.
Well, I can't dance. And I am extremely vicious in my thinking about the woman who hit me right now. Dancing has always been my salvation whenever the shit hit the fan in my life. It is what saved my life...and I can't dance my way through this one.
I didn't journal and wrote only a few lines to my boyfriend.
Joyous of joys. I have now gone from constipation to diarrhea and I have menstrual cramps so bad that I’m nauseous. I've never had that before. Go figure. My pelvis is twisted. Like my lower back didn’t hurt already. Even woke me up.
And I’m now having the nightmares. Swordfights…going to work and being so out of the loop that I don’t know how to do my job anymore so everyone is yelling at me...I’m losing things--important things and getting in trouble…lots and lots of dreams that I don’t remember.
My stress level is so high that I’ve been shouting and didn’t realize it until I started to calm down after my parents cleaned my pig-sty apartment. Didn’t realize how badly that was getting at me either. I’m not realizing a lot of things….my social graces are gone. I’m so self-centered right now that it’s driving me batty. Didn’t realize until 3:00 a.m. that I hadn’t thanked Galen's sister for the treat.
Got dad lost last night when we had to go the back way to Walmart cuz it was rush hour and the thought of being on the freeway, trapped among other cars, about made me batty too. I don’t wanna shower, I don’t wanna eat. Even though I really need to. I’m yelling at everyone and I can’t concentrate. My rage level burns just below the surface and flares at the slightest thing.
I can’t work out things in my head. My dad was trying to explain something to me last night that dealt with money and figures and months and my stupid injury was getting in the way of my brilliant mind! I AM NOT STUPID!!! But I feel stupid!
I don’t hate, yet I feel like I hate her. I can’t dance it off! I’m trapped in this body that grows more and more painful with every day. I find more and more problems every day and I’m about ready to start getting violent because I have no outlet except crying and screaming! I have all this pent up emotion which is only compounded by all the bureaucratic bullshit red tape and one frustration after another! I pay you fuckers to do your jobs, not to push it off on me!!!
It’s frigging cold in here because my pilot light blew out and I have bad circulation. My hands fall asleep at the drop of a hat. I am now back to being in constant lower back pain. I can’t concentrate. I’m fritzed out and snappy, I find myself repeating myself all the time.
I’m told by so many people who have had whiplash that they have problems years down the road. I was supposed to be an internationally known dancer! I was supposed to have my first international tour. But now, if they still want me, it’ll be postponed. IF I go, how can I feel worthy of them bringing me? I won’t even be at ½ what I was before the accident and with no extra training to make up for my youth and inexperience compared to Dakini. I mean, I was good…but I’m green yet because of my age. I was feeling like, if I worked my butt off for Jan. & Feb I could be worthy of being flown across the ocean. But now?
I can’t even give them what we sent on the video. I feel like I’ll be a fraud if I go. I feel like I should wear a sign: I know you were expecting Nadhra. Well, all we could bring was HER. Sorry. She had a bad accident.
I was really good.
Now I can’t even walk right. Here are the moves I can’t do: any of the innumerable forms of shimmy--the base move of this dance. Any of the various figure 8’s, undulations, rib/hip circles, rib/hip slides, rib/hip drops, shoulder shimmy, shoulder roll, head slide, zar head fling, lunges, turns, floor work of any sort, half of my arm movements.
Boy…what does that leave?
Hands & eyes. Fuck me.
In a letter to my boyfriend:
Momentary return to normal synapses… You, amazing man, have been on my mind often today. I miss you. I ache for you. I adore you.
Our pictures turned out wonderfully. Even the one under the car where there was no light. Your aerial of the engine is awesome. *grin* We do good work when we team up together...
*flash of eyebrow, which has been MIA of late*
I hadn't realized how much of a relief that having my parents out here is...I didn't realize that I was about to de-rail. My mom knew just by talking to me on Christmas. Hee...we still have our special little psychic connection. The bonds between my parents and me are really something. Very rare.
My mom cried over almost losing me today...I have always known that they loved me, but today I was shown the magnitude. I also got the most delicious slice of them as PEOPLE. It's wonderful to see them getting to know themselves again, to know each other again...and to be sharing that with me. Aaaaagh...now that I am back to looking at This Moment, I see just how truly blessed I am.
Dancing once again,
(at least in my heart)
December 31, 2000
What is that?! I completely melted down again today and then just reached the point where everything shut off like a light switch. Went glaze-eyed. Like doe-eyed and this weird airy voice came out of me. This mechanical doll voice. "No. I'm fine. I am always fine. I will handle it myself. I always handle everything myself. " Just...BOOM.
Is that what happened to me when I lost my memories in college?
I think it freaked everybody out. Freaked me out, too.
But I pulled it out enough to rock my lime-green dress and get dolled up for Galen's New Years gig. I couldn't dance, which sucked to watch everybody else up there, but at least I looked like a million bucks. Nobody would have ever known I was just shaken and stirred like a rag doll inside my mangled car.
Well, except that I had to curl up in a pile of all our winter coats and crash out in the corner halfway through the night. I totally drooled on somebody's coat. Been drooling a ton lately. Chiro says that's normal.
January 2, 2001
Had to refer another private party to Dakini. Also two girls I had met at the restaurant last month called to start taking lessons. Had to refer them to Dakini as well.
Really bad headache today. My whole body is cracking & popping--which is good, means it’s adjusting on its own now. Ears have been ringing the last few days. Still don’t have any appointments except chiro--he hadn’t heard from my insurance adjust yet either.
Totally wiped out today. Crashed for a heavy sleep this afternoon. Tired already--7:00 p.m. Going to bed....zzzzzzz…
'TIS THE SEASON
CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE
--UP NEXT: "DO YOU SEE ROADBLOCKS OR OPPORTUNITIES?" - the Abled Male Asked the Disabled Female.
--OR if you'd like to go back to the start of this 20th Anniversary series, it starts with what I was up to twenty years ago
--OR you can go back a little farther to this past Thanksgiving, when another drunk driver sparked me to write a boatload about what that "little concussion" actually did to my brain and my life.